The topic of sustainability has long captured the interest of microfinance practitioners. Between February 8 and 19, 2010, the SEEP Network Savings-Led Financial Services Working Group (SLFS) hosted an online conference to detail minimum standards for a definition of sustainability for savings-led initiatives. The forum was designed to be an open space for interested practitioners, both SEEP members and non-members, to share their ideas, learn from one another and reach consensus. The ideas put forth will be circulated among key players and used in publications going forward.
Overall, the group determined that rather than focusing on cost recovery as is common of credit-led programs, sustainability in savings-led microfinance refers to the ability of the system to ensure ongoing provision of core financial services1 beyond the initial intervention. In other words, sustainability requires independent group functioning into the future with no external support. And although sustainability may be defined at different levels of program operation2, the discussion during the conference focused on the core unit of analysis: The savings groups.